Archive for the ‘Playful or Cool’ Category

Which Words Are Used To Describe White And Black NFL Prospects?

Tuesday, February 16th, 2016

Graphic with words

I’ve been meaning to blog this 2014 use of Voyant Tools for some time. Which Words Are Used To Describe White And Black NFL Prospects?. Deadspin did a neat project where they gathered pre-drafting scout reports on black and white football players and then analyzed them with Voyant showing how some words are used more for white or black players.


Metropolis II by Chris Burden (the movie) – YouTube

Tuesday, August 18th, 2015

From the panopticonopolis tumblr I’ve discovered Metropolis II by Chris Burden. What an interesting take on the city.

Panopticonopolis (try saying it) by Misha Lepetic has mostly entries on cities, some of which appear in 3 Quarks Daily. Another article on The Forgotten Archipelago asks what happened to the Soviet ZATP cities – the special purpose, closed and hidden cities set up for secret research. What happened when the Soviet Union collapsed and the federal government could no longer fund these single-purpose cities?

I was led to the panopticonopolis from an article on Blob Justice, Part 1 which looks at the herd shaming that is taking place on the Internet starting with Cecil the lion. I can’t help wondering if this sort of Internet stampede is related to gamergate and Anonymous.

Traсes – Augmented reality gifts

Sunday, October 19th, 2014

From a New Scientist article I learned about Traсes. Traces lets you leave a bundle of information (like a song and some greetings) for someone at a particular GPS location (and at a particular time.) You can thus use it to add gifts for other people to find. It strikes me a neat use of augmented reality. I can imagine all sorts of uses for it beyond gifts:

  • One could use it to leave information about a place.
  • It could be used by artists to leave AR works as imagined by William Gibson in Spook Country.
  • One could create alternate reality games with it.

Alas, it is not available in the Canadian App Store.

Raw: Visualization

Tuesday, August 19th, 2014

Raw 1.0 – Basic Tutorial from DensityDesign on Vimeo.

Stan drew my attention to Raw an online visualization tool that is simply elegant. You paste in some data, choose the type of chart, drag and drop dimensions to be graphed and bingo. It reminds me of Many Eyes but simpler to use.


Saturday, June 7th, 2014


Stan pointed me to a net site called Selfiexploratory where you can explore selfies with a very neat faceted browsing control panel. The panel lets you restrict the selfies to those where the person looks up or down; or the head is tilted. You can thus explore the database of selfies by pose and other categories.

The Isolator, A Bizarre Helmet For Encouraging Concentration (1925)

Wednesday, May 21st, 2014

From Geoff I learned about The Isolator, A Bizarre Helmet For Encouraging Concentration (1925). The Isolator was developed in 1925 by Hugo Gernsback a science fiction pioneer (and editor of Science and Invention magazine.) The idea is to force you to focus on your writing (with lots of oxygen.)

One wonders if it works? Could it be even more useful now?

Buxton Collection of Input Devices

Sunday, May 18th, 2014


Bill Buxton has made available his collection his Buxton Collection of Interactive Devices. This collection of input and touch devices like chord keyboards, watches, pen computers, and joysticks. I saw some of his collection when at GRAND in 2011 as he mounted a display for CHI 2011 which took place right before.

What is doubly interesting is the Microsoft Silverlight PivotViewer which is for exploring large sets of visual objects. You can explore the Buxton Collection with Pivot if you install Silverlight. Apparently Pivot is discontinued, but you can still try it on the Buxton Collection.

The interface of the PivotViewer reminds me of Stan Ruecker’s work on rich prospect browsing. He developed an interface that always keeps the full set of objects in view while drawing some forward and minimizes others.

Fragmented Memory | Phillip Stearns

Saturday, April 12th, 2014

From Elijah Meeks’ hackathon at the Texas Digital Humanities Conference I learned about Fragmented Memory by Phillip Stearns. This is a project that takes binary data and then turns it into weaving instructions using Processing. Here is one of the large tapestries woven (and available for sale.)

If you can’t afford a $15,000 tapestry, there are also cheaper blankets here.

I’ve just put them on my Christmas list (which I can never find in time.)

Digital Humanities Quarterly: April Fools 2014

Wednesday, April 2nd, 2014

Julia Flanders, Editor in Chief of DHQ, played a great joke on all of us for April Fools. She sent around a message that started with,

DHQ is pleased to announce an experimental new publication initiative that may be of interest to members of the DH and TEI community. As of April 1, we will no longer publish scholarly articles in verbal form. Instead, articles will be processed through Voyant Tools and summarized as a set of visualizations which will be published as a surrogate for the article. The full text of the article will be archived and will be made available to researchers upon request, with a cooling-off period of 8 weeks. Working with a combination of word clouds, word frequency charts, topic modeling, and citation networks, readers will be able to gain an essential understanding of the content and significance of the article without having to read it in full.

On April 1st, 2014, if you went to Digital Humanities Quarterly: 2014 you would have been able to access Voyant versions of the papers of the recent that are there. Stephen Davis on the TEI list logically took it a step further and wrote that he had processed the message itself through Voyant and that the “derived Cirrus word cloud really does say as much (as) anyone need to know about DHQ’s new approach!” Alas the word cloud wasn’t included, so I generated one and here it is.


What else is there to say?

A Short History of the Highrise

Tuesday, November 26th, 2013

The New York Times and the National Film Board (of Canada) have collaborated on a great interactive A Short History of the Highrise. The interactive plays as a documentary that you can stop at any point to explore details. The director, Katerina Cizek, on the About page talks about their inspiration:

I was inspired by the ways storybooks have been reinvented for digital tablets like the iPad. We used rhymes to zip through history, and animation and interactivity to playfully revisit a stunning photographic collection and reinterpret great feats of engineering.

For the NFB this is part of their larger Highrise many-media project.